Three reasons Man Utd need to pull out the stops to beat PL rivals to £26m-rated left-back

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is on the hunt for a new left-back and he needs to do everything he can to ensure the Red Devils beat Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea to the signing of AS Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy this summer.

The 22-year-old Frenchman has starred for Monaco as they chase a first Ligue 1 title in 17 years this season. He joined the club in a £13 million deal from Marseille last summer but is expected to be on the move again this summer, with an offer of around £26 million expected to be enough to force Monaco’s hand.

Mourinho’s critical comments about Luke Shaw in recent weeks suggest he may not see a long-term future at Old Trafford for the youngster. Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian are also options at the position but none of them are natural left-backs and struggle to get up and down as much as Antonio Valencia on the opposite wing.

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Mendy would give Manchester United a fresh look and another attacking outlet down the left side. He has proven his quality in Ligue 1 and in the Champions League this season so here are three reasons United need to do all they can to sign him in the coming months…

1. Attacking threat from left-back

Mendy would offer United something they don’t currently have – a consistent attacking outlet down the left side. Luke Shaw is an attacking full-back but is clearly not one of Mourinho’s favourites, while Matteo Darmian struggles to offer regular support in the attacking third.

Mendy has eight league and Champions League assists this season – more than any other defender in Europe, including Real Madrid’s Marcelo and Bayern’s David Alaba who are both rated as two of the world’s best in the position.

Antonio Valencia gives United a regular threat from right-back but they become quite one-sided due to the lack of similar support on the left, so the addition of Mendy would add balance as well as some much-needed creativity from deep.

2016/17 League Stats
Games
Assists
Chances
Created Per 90 Mins
Pass
Completion (%)
Tackles
Won Per 90 Mins
Benjamin
Mendy
21
5
1.05
76%
1.9
Luke
Shaw
10
1
1.32
85%
0.92
Matteo
Darmian
12
0
0.21
81%
2.00

Table: Benjamin Mendy’s league statistics compared to Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian this season (stats via: Squawka).

2. Play style perfectly suits the Premier League

The table above shows how Mendy compares to Shaw and Darmian – the two most natural left-backs United have at their disposal at the moment. His stats suggest he is a well-rounded full-back, who is as adept at winning the ball back as he is creating chances. His pass completion could be better but 66% of his passes go forward, further highlighting his direct approach.

Premier League full-backs that can get forward quickly but also defend well in 1v1 situations tend to standout and Mendy fits that billing perfectly. A move to Old Trafford could see him establish himself as one of the club’s best left-sided defenders, as his approach to the game isn’t too dissimilar to that of Patrice Evra’s when he joined the Red Devils in 2006.

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3. Bright future ahead

Mendy is still only 22. That’s easy to forget considering he made his professional debut almost six years ago. But he has established himself as one of Europe’s best full-backs this season as Monaco continue to impress domestically and in the Champions League.

Mendy made his France debut last month, getting an assist in the 3-1 win over Luxembourg and a long and successful career is expected for club and country, no matter where he is plying his trade.

Luke Shaw is a year younger than Mendy but with his future unclear, the Frenchman would be an ideal replacement this summer and would potentially give Manchester United a reliable and improving left-back for many years to come.

Should Man United do everything in their power to sign Benjamin Mendy this summer?

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Do Liverpool hold the key in Hazard’s Chelsea departure with attempt to sign €80m Madrid star?

Liverpool could potentially play a key role in Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea at the end of the season as they are reportedly interested in signing Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez, so long as they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Colombian has been in and out of the Madrid side since joining for a whopping €80 million in 2014, but Los Blancos may well entertain offers for him this summer in a bid to fund a potential world-record transfer for Hazard.

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It’s no secret the Chelsea man is wanted by Real. Many have dubbed him a ‘Real Madrid sort of player’ and with the current state of the transfer market in mind this could be the first fee to reach over £100m.

Madrid have broken transfer records to land Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and are unlikely to hesitate doing the same thing to bring Hazard to the Bernabeu this summer.

Chelsea are not a club renowned for selling their top players but have been making a name for themselves with the business they’ve been doing over the last few seasons in terms of selling stars they no longer need for big money. While Hazard certainly doesn’t fall into that category it shows if the right price is offered they could agree to sell him.

An offer of the sort of value that is being spoken about would no doubt be tempting for any club, no matter how good the player is and it would provide Chelsea with the purchasing power to sign a like-for-like replacement and potentially break even.

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Jurgen Klopp looks set to be preparing for the possibility of life after Philippe Coutinho, who is heavily tipped for a move to Barcelona in the coming months, so the potential purchase of Rodriguez would almost definitely have a knock-on effect across Europe.

One thing is for sure, if Real Madrid want Hazard they will do everything possible to get him. They’ve got a history of splashing huge amounts of cash on players and would no doubt be willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, even if they were to keep hold of Rodriguez.

Will Rodriguez join Liverpool? Is Hazard on his way out of Chelsea?

Spurs can win first Premier League title if Mauricio Pochettino signs these players

Mauricio Pochettino has been impressive since taking over at Tottenham Hotspur but they are still the nearly men at the moment. They’re challenging for the Premier League title again this season but look more likely to finish in either second or third place with Chelsea ten points clear. Squad depth is a small issue that Spurs are still battling and if they were to sign these three players, they could put themselves in a really strong position to win a first Premier League title next season…

Alejandro Gomez

The Atalanta forward has made a real statement with his performances in Serie A this season. He is an extremely versatile player who is capable of causing trouble as a centre-attacking midfielder, a winger or even as a striker. The Argentinian wouldn’t cost Spurs the earth and a move would be favourable as it would allow him to play in the Champions League next season. He has netted 11 goals in 31 appearances and would be a hugely reliable back-up to take some of the pressure off Harry Kane.

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Ross Barkley

There isn’t a huge amount to say about this exciting young Englishman that hasn’t already been said. He is built for the fast-paced attacking style of football that Spurs play. While he might be a more expensive option than some other attacking midfielders he has plenty of Premier League experience already. At just 23 he could form a formidable partnership with Dele Alli for both club and country and the appeal of competing at the highest level makes a move possible. Whether or not Barkley would accept not starting every game is a different question but if he wants a move to a Champions League club he will have to embrace the competition for places and Spurs would be a great place for him to develop.

Christian Pulisic

The 18-year-old American is one of the hottest prospects in the Bundesliga. Despite being little-known to many across Europe he is showing signs of working his way to the very top. He has impressed for Borussia Dortmund this season and hasn’t looked out of place against anyone in the Bundesliga or Champions League. He would provide Spurs with even more unpredictability and would certainly be an ideal replacement for Erik Lamela, whose future looks uncertain as a result of injury struggles as well as time out due to personal reasons this season.

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Spurs are not far off landing some silverware soon, but they need to win something to silence some of their doubters, including fans of their own. Pochettino looks set to stay at the club and it’s an exciting time to be a Tottenham fan. They’re building for the long run and increasing their squad size would only give them a greater chance at success across all fronts in the 2017/18 campaign.

Will Spurs try to sign any of these players this summer? How far off winning the Premier League are they?

Orlando City star linked with £2m move to Everton to replace Lukaku this summer

Everton are looking across the pond to Major League Soccer as they line up a summer move for Orlando City striker Cyle Larin, who the Toffees see as an ideal replacement for the seemingly outgoing Romelu Lukaku, according to the Sun.

Everton scouts have been watching Larin take MLS by storm since joining the league with Orlando in 2015. He’s scored a total of 34 goals in 61 regular season games and has added three assists in that time.

At 21, Larin is clearly a player with a big future ahead of him. Orlando fans would love to think they could hold onto their prolific frontman for the foreseeable future but interest from a Premier League club like Everton will have to be taken seriously by both the player and the club itself.

Larin is expected to cost around £2 million if Everton firm up their interest in the coming months, but that would surely only happen if Lukaku does indeed depart at the end of the season.

The Belgian forward has refused to sign a new five-year deal as he wants to play in the Champions League for one of Europe’s elite clubs. He is currently the Premier League’s top goalscorer after netting 21 goals in 28 appearances so far this season – the best tally of his career.

A return to former club Chelsea is on the cards as it appears increasingly unlikely that the 23-year-old talisman will be plying his trade at Goodison Park next term.

The Toffees might well look to Larin if they lose Lukaku but they can expect competition, with European rivals Besiktas, Celtic and Benfica also reported to be circling around the Canada international.

Would Cyle Larin be a good signing for Everton if they lose Romelu Lukaku? Is he ready to leave MLS for the Premier League?

Should Mourinho be looking to replace Martial with this £40m Premier League champion?

Jose Mourinho will no doubt ring the changes at Manchester United this summer. His first season in charge has been steadily improving but he needs to bring more quality to the squad in order to compete for the title in 2017/18.

One man who has struggled more than most under the Portuguese manager is Anthony Martial. He’s struggled to make much of an impact throughout the current campaign and while he is still young, he has offered little to show Mourinho that he is the best winger for United next season. Fans and pundits alike know Mourinho is ruthless and if he sees the potential to cash in on an underperforming player, he’ll do it.

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Jesse Lingard has been included in the matchday squad more times than the Frenchman – 38 times to 36 – and considering the money spent to bring him to the club, that is a worrying statistic for Martial.

A potential replacement for the former Monaco man could be Chelsea’s Willian. The Brazilian has seen his game time limited this season at Stamford Bridge and has found himself second choice to the in-form Pedro. Mourinho is a huge fan of Willian and would no doubt love to sign him for United.

The 28 year old won the Premier League with Mourinho at Chelsea and would be an ideal fit for United. He is a set-piece specialist and would offer the Red Devils more than their current options for free-kick and corner duties.

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Willian’s is currently valued at just below £30 million by transfermarkt and United would have to pay a little over the odds for him from a rival club. An offer of £40m should be enough to secure his services if Mourinho can persuade him to leave and Chelsea to sell in the coming months.

Would Willian be an ideal fit for United? Is he a better option than Martial?

Are Chelsea set to take summer transfer market by storm by spending £244 million on just three players?

Chelsea look destined to win their fifth Premier League title but preparations for moulding next season’s squad will already be underway. Retaining silverware gets more and more difficult with each passing year becoming even more competitive at the top of the Premier League. These three players would require Roman Abramovich to provide Antonio Conte with a war chest of funds but would no doubt make the Chelsea squad one of, if not, the strongest in European football…

Neymar 

The Brazilian superstar is already one of the best players in world football and is making huge strides to potentially becoming the best to ever play the game. At just 25 he has won just about everything that has been on offer to him at club level and racked up and astonishing 500 career appearances.

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Abramovich is reported to have made a world-record offer for the Barcelona winger but a move to Chelsea would be a huge surprise considering he signed a new contact in October last year to keep him at FCB until 2021. His buyout clause is a staggering £180 million, which will eventually rise to £225 million. This means Chelsea would have to nearly double the current world-record fee to make a deal happen this summer.

Verdict: Unlikely to join – 4/10

Radja Nainggolan

The Roma midfielder has been a standout performer this season. He has attracted interest from football fans across Europe with some of his sensational long-range strikes as well as his ability to drive the team forward. Antonio Conte wanted the Belgian at Chelsea last summer but a deal failed to materialise.

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Roma look set to finish second in Serie A this season and it will be another year in which Nainggolan will have failed to land any major silverware. He could well be tempted by a move to Chelsea to be part of a squad that are continuing to make history in English football. His transfer value according to transfermarkt is just £30m, although Chelsea would surely have to offer more than that to force Roma to sell their key player.

Verdict: A deal could happen – 7/10

Alvaro Morata

The Real Madrid striker has seen his first team opportunities limited this season. Los Blancos have so many attacking options at their disposal and Morata is one of many players who has been rotated. The future of Diego Costa still remains uncertain and if he was to leave Chelsea this summer Morata would be a candidate capable of replacing him to lead the line.

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Conte has history with Morata after convincing him to join Juventus back in 2014 and has reportedly been in touch with the Spaniard during the last two transfer windows. A deal would cost Chelsea anywhere upwards of his £34m value, again according to transfermarkt, but the Blues certainly have the financial power to make a move possible.

Verdict: A transfer that is likely to happen if Costa leaves – 7/10

Chelsea are expected to busy in the summer transfer window and will have to strengthen their squad to be able to deal with the return of European football next season and keep pace with their rivals who will also improve their squads over the coming months.

Will Chelsea sign any of these three players? Are they likely to attempt to lure Neymar from Barca?

How Liverpool could benefit from Barcelona swap deal if Coutinho leaves this summer

Barcelona are not giving up hope of luring Liverpool’s star playmaker Philippe Coutinho to the Nou Camp this summer, despite the fact the 24-year-old Brazilian penned a new five-year contract in January.

Coutinho became the Reds’ highest-paid player just a couple of months ago but it has done little to stop Barca from pursuing his signature as they look to strengthen this summer.

The Liverpool star is seen as an ideal replacement for Iniesta, who is approaching the end of his career and has yet to sign a new deal with the Catalan giants.

Don’t miss: Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

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Liverpool fans won’t want to imagine life without Coutinho at Anfield. His creativity is a huge asset to the side as he can operate behind the striker or out on the left wing, thriving in both roles under Jurgen Klopp.

The Reds will need even more depth next season as they prepare for life back in Europe – whether that be the Champions League or Europa League – so losing Coutinho is a scenario Klopp will be trying not to think about.

But if the player wants to link up with former Liverpool teammate Luis Suarez, Brazilian pal Neymar and Lionel Messi it will be difficult to keep him. But there is still a way Liverpool could benefit from the loss of their No.10 as Barca could allow their own 24-year-old Brazilian playmaker to depart in the coming months.

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Rafinha is reportedly being chased by Arsenal, Juventus and most interestingly Liverpool as he has been unable to nail down a guaranteed starting place with Barca. He has played 27 times in all competitions this season but has only started 17 of those matches and his chances of bettering that tally would be significantly hampered if Coutinho were to join the club this summer.

Barca would be willing to let Rafinha leave if the right offer came in, just as they did with his brother Thiago Alcantara who joined Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich in 2013. Liverpool would surely move to the front of the queue for Rafinha if the two clubs were already in discussions regarding Coutinho.

16/17 League Stats
Appearances
Goals
Assists
Chances Created Per 90 Mins
Pass Accuracy
Coutinho
22
6
5
2.67
83%
Rafinha
17
6
2
1.18
92%

Both Rafinha and Coutinho have scored six league goals this season, with the Liverpool ace picking up three more assists. Although he has played five more games and has racked up 523 more minutes than the Barca man.

Coutinho creates more chances for his teammates per 90 minutes than Rafinha, although his passing accuracy isn’t as good, with the Barca academy product only misplacing 39 passes in La Liga all season.

Losing Coutinho would undoubtedly worry Reds fans but if they can negotiate a swap deal with Barcelona for Rafinha they could still be in a position to challenge at the top end of the Premier League next season. They would also be able to free up some space on the wage bill to pursue other targets as they prepare for a busier schedule in the 2017/18 campaign.

Would Rafinha be a good replacement for Coutinho at Liverpool if Barcelona come in for the Reds star this summer?

Three Premier League players that could move to MLS as free agents this summer

There are still eight weeks left of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign but the futures of a number of the division’s top players are still hanging in the balance with contracts that are set to expire on June 30.

Major League Soccer clubs are constantly looking to strengthen squads, especially with experienced stars from Europe that can be brought in for free to help turn a season on its head at the midway point of the campaign.

That should be no different this summer, so here are three players that could join MLS as free agents in the coming months.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic has been in incredible form during his first season in English football, firing in 26 goals and helping Manchester United to win the League Cup in February. But as things stand it appears as though this could be the big striker’s only season in England, with LA Galaxy keen on making him the best-paid player in MLS history if he chooses not to extend his United contract past June 30.

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United are keen on extending Ibrahimovic’s contract for at least one more season but the chance to enjoy the Hollywood lifestyle in Los Angeles might be enough to tempt him to move to MLS this year.

Current wages: £220,000 per week
Possible MLS destination: LA Galaxy

Pablo Zabaleta

Zabaleta has been at Manchester City for nine seasons but there are no signs that a new contract will be offered to the 32-year-old. He hasn’t been as important for the Citizens over the last two seasons and has only started 10 of City’s 29 Premier League games under Guardiola this term.

West Ham have been linked with a move for the Argentine international if he does indeed leave City on a free this summer but MLS clubs would surely be monitoring the situation in case Zabaleta decides he wants to move closer to his homeland for the final years of his professional career. MLS clubs have been switching their focus to defensive players over the last few months and Zabaleta would present plenty of teams with an experienced addition if they’re willing to spend the money on his wages.

Current wages: £90,000 per week
Possible MLS destination: Montreal Impact

Lucas Leiva

Lucas is in his tenth season in the English top flight but it could well be his last as Liverpool don’t look set to extend the Brazilian midfielder’s contract. He has been used more in the centre of the Reds’ defence under Jurgen Klopp this season than in midfield, playing just 570 minutes in the Premier League after 29 matches.

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He is still only 30 and has a lot to offer any side who picks him up this summer. He appeared close to moving to Turkey last summer but if MLS sides want someone who can break play up in the defensive third, then there will be few better free options than Lucas in the coming months. The New York Red Bulls still have a void to fill following the departure of Dax McCarty in January and with a DP slot available, don’t be shocked to see them make a move for Liverpool’s longest-serving player.

Current wages: £80,000 per week
Possible MLS destination: New York Red Bulls

Mourinho should be doing all he can to persuade one of these strikers to be his number 9 next season

Manchester United will have no doubt starting looking into replacements for their number nine spot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has taken the Premier League by storm but the Swede is yet to sign a contract extension and at 35 he is not a long-term option. Jose Mourinho will be assessing options to replace Ibrahimovic whether that is this summer or in transfer windows to come, so he should be doing all he can to persuade any of these elite goal-machines to sign for United…

Antoine Griezmann

Easily one of the most sought after strikers in Europe, Antoine Griezmann would walk into practically any elite side. Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has admitted there is uncertainty in the prolific Frenchman’s future at the club and wouldn’t stand in his way if he decided he wanted to move on. The 26-year-old striker has constantly been linked with United and he would be joining up with fellow internationals Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial if he were to make the switch to Manchester. He has netted 22 goals this season and is only going to get better.

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabon speed-demon has been causing havoc in the Bundesliga this season. He has averaged a goal a game and suits a number of systems. While hold-up play isn’t his game he is capable in the air but his main threat is pace on the counter. When Aubameyang gets going there is no stopping him and he is consistently providing in both domestic and European competitions.

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Alexandre Lacazette

Another Frenchman Mourinho should be looking at is Alexandre Lacazette. The Lyon striker possesses both pace and power in his approach as well as the ability to sniff out a goalscoring chance. He has netted 29 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions this season and is another forward being tipped for a big move in Europe. A transfer to any of the top six Premier League sides would be tempting for Lacazette considering much of an influence the competition has on players.

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Should United make any of these three their number nine for next season? Does Mourinho need to sign more than one forward in the summer?

Jurgen Klopp needs to sign this goalkeeper and centre-back for Liverpool this summer

Liverpool continued their impressive record against sides in the top half of the Premier League at the weekend with their draw away at Manchester City, but their inconsistent form throughout the season has threatened their chances of finishing in the top four. Fans and pundits alike have called for Jurgen Klopp to tighten up his defence by signing a new goalkeeper and world-class defender in the summer. Are these two players the ideal fit for the Reds?

Joe Hart

The England international has found himself exiled from Pep Guardiola’s plans and it seems unlikely he will feature for City in the future. A whole host of clubs will be battling it out to sign the experienced Premier League winner but Liverpool need him more than most.

Hart’s winning mentality and consistent outstanding performances at the highest level will give the Liverpool defence more confidence. He has had – and has overcome – critics in the past and his own self-belief is exactly what makes him a top ‘keeper. Hart dominates his penalty area and commands his defenders into the position he wants them. A leader on and off the field would no doubt push Liverpool in the right direction.

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Kostas Manolas

The Roma centre-back is making a name for himself in one of the toughest defences in Europe. The Italian side have conceded just 26 goals in 29 Serie A games this season and Manolas is being linked with a move to many of Europe’s elite clubs in the coming months. Liverpool are reported to be interested in his services and he would certainly add some steel to their defence.

Klopp’s defence is lacking a leader and Manolas has captaincy potential. At just 25 he has the best part of eight years to play at the top and by signing him Liverpool would have no trouble attracting other players who would love the chance to form a formidable centre-back partnership with the Greek international.

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Will Liverpool sign Hart and Manolas? Who would you like to see Klopp bring in to improve his defence in the summer?